Every parent struggles to find time to take care of themselves while also taking care of their kids. It’s a balance that sets us up to feel guilty—we feel guilty if we take too much time for ourselves and we feel guilty if we don’t. But it’s important for parents—especially single moms—to make time for ourselves.
Taking care of ourselves puts us in a better place to meet the needs of our kids.
So, with that in mind, we compiled a list of the best things for single parents to do to make sure that they don’t get so caught up taking care of their kids that they neglect themselves. Having kids can be demanding, but it’s important to make time, at least periodically, for some of the things on this list to keep yourself sane and centered.
Top Self-Care Suggestions
|Take “me” time||To take a beat and give yourself a rest|
|Enjoy some quiet||To de-stress|
|Girl time||Have fun with other adults|
|Develop hobbies||To enjoy the things that interest YOU|
|Treat yourself||Because you deserve it|
Obviously, each of these items takes time—our most precious resource. Single parents have a lot to juggle between work, kids, school or after-school programs if your kids are school-age, and, you know, generally running your life. Taking time for even one of these things can be a struggle.
But, it’s important. And it’s important to be intentional about it. In other words, taking a second to breathe while waiting to pick your kid up from school isn’t the same as finding an hour for yourself to meditate.
So, be sure you MAKE the time to do at least one of these things a couple times a week. The key is to do as much as you feel like you need, whenever you can. Guilt-free.
1. Take Time for Yourself
It may sound simple, but taking care of yourself typically starts with making time for yourself. This may mean getting a sitter or arranging play-dates for your kids, just so you can have a little time for yourself. Even if you use this time to catch up on laundry or take care of other things you’ve been ignoring. Or, open up all the windows and blast your favorite music. It doesn’t matter.
Whatever you do, you want to be able to do it in peace, without interruptions.
And, yes, veg out in front of the TV a little if you feel the urge. Or, enjoy a meal that you love but your kids may not.
2. Meditation/Breathing/Quiet Time
Being a single mom is no cakewalk, but it’s even harder if you don’t find time to quiet your mind and center yourself. It’s important to find time to create a quiet environment for yourself so you can focus on letting go of the day or the week. Or the year.
Note: you don’t need a candlelit bath to do this, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. Just try to create a quiet space for yourself and try not to think about everything you have going on. Instead, just relax, breathe, and let the worries slip away for a little while.
No matter how much you have going on in the day or how much “running around” you do, it’s still important to get the blood flowing and release a little stress in an INTENTIONAL way.
Plus, exercise gets bonus points for releasing those endorphins that we all need to keep us healthy and happy.
4. Girl Time
This shouldn’t require much justification, but every adult needs time with other adults. Just because you spend so much of your life focused on your kid(s) doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from time spent with other adults.
Maybe this takes the form of a Friday night happy hour, or maybe it’s Taco Tuesdays. Whatever works with your schedule is fine, but find time to get together with friends. Have a margarita or three. Laugh, cry, brag (or lament) about your kids, discussing your dating adventures, vent about your ex. Talk about the things you can’t talk about around your kids.
5. Develop Your Interests
When you have kids, it’s easy to lose your own personality. We get immersed in everything our kids have going on. Their interests become ours, and our hobbies become facilitating theirs. We won’t talk about how many hours I spent in an airplane hangar working on old warbirds.
But it’s important to keep your own hobbies and make time to develop your own interests. Whether it’s reading, writing, journaling, or building model airplanes, find time each week to do something that YOU enjoy—something that interests YOU.
6. Treat Yourself
You had to know this was coming, and here it is.
When you’re a single parent, you MUST find ways to indulge yourself. Spend a day at a spa, or get a message. Take a quick overnight trip when you can get a babysitter or arrange for the kids to spend a night at friends’ houses.
Yes, it’s important to be budget-conscious, but everyone needs to splurge every now and again. Otherwise, what are we really working so hard for? Find time to indulge yourself away from your kids and enjoy the fruits of your hard work.
So, there you have it, a list of things you can do to improve your own mental and emotional well-being. Yes, they’re important; and no, it’s not mean to make time to do things for you that DON’T involve your kids. In fact, taking care of yourself is critical to being a good parent. So go forth, enjoy, breathe, indulge. Hopefully some of these suggestions will help you stay balanced and enjoy some time to yourself.